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Walking 1,000 miles after life-changing injuries to thank local air ambulance

A former teacher who suffered life-changing injuries when she was attacked by a herd of cows has set herself the challenge of walking 1,000 miles in 2021 to raise funds for the local air ambulance, without whom, she believes, she would not be here today.

Pip Peacock (63) from Bakewell was walking her dog at Magpie Mine near Sheldon when the incident happened in September 2019.

“My injuries were so serious I probably would not have survived if I had gone in a land ambulance to hospital. The policeman who went to tell my husband what had happened said I might not live even though I had been taken by helicopter,” she says.

But thanks to Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland Air Ambulance Pip was flown to the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield – the nearest major trauma centre – in just 10 minutes.

The road journey from the remote location would have been about 45 minutes.

Her injuries included 34 breaks in her ribs, a broken collar bone, broken shoulder ligaments, and a broken finger, as well as serious wounds to her left leg and right knee.

Surgeons had to use 17 titanium plates to repair her rib cage – and before the surgery, Pip’s husband Philip was warned that the second major trauma to her body in two days might mean that she would not survive.  However, several churches gathered to pray as did Christian friends and friends of friends all over the world and she recovered.

Thankfully, after eight days in an induced coma and another two weeks in hospital, she was well enough to go home.

Since then, despite often being in pain, Pip has been trying to rebuild her life – initially by spending time with friends and family and since lockdown restrictions were introduced, by walking.

“As walking was allowed I just did more and more.  I needed a challenge and signed up to walk 1,000 miles in a year.  Then I thought it would be a great idea to use it to raise money for the local air ambulance charity so that something good comes out of what happened to me,” she says.

Pip also wants to raise awareness of the potential dangers of walking near cows, especially with dogs.

She was with her dog Buster in a field, where there were some cattle, when the attack happened.

She explains:

“Buster was used to walking in fields of cows and was on a very short lead by my knees.  The first thing I recall about the attack is one cow coming for me. Then I was lying on the ground and was kicked and rolled over several times.”

“I tried to shout for help but had no voice.  I put my hands over my head and recited Psalm 23; ‘The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures.’ I felt very peaceful as my faith means I am not afraid of death. Suddenly I heard voices and two men and a woman came along. The men were incredibly brave and chased the cows away. This was no easy task. I could hear them shouting and was worried the cows would attack them. They used their sticks and camera tripods to move the cows away. The woman stayed and talked to me. Once the cows had gone, I could hear the man on the phone telling someone that my dog had been killed, but I don’t remember dropping Buster’s lead or him running away from me,” she says.

Losing Buster, a 13-year-old black Labrador described by Pip as “very docile,” is a great sadness to Pip.

She says: “He was very placid and loved by everyone – even some people who didn’t usually like dogs. He came to us at 18 months from the Dog’s Trust and we couldn’t have asked for a better dog.”

Pip doesn’t hold any ill-feeling about the incident. Adding: I think it was just an unfortunate event. I have had incredible support since the accident and can see that good things have come out of it. I am making good progress but still struggle with pain from time to time.”

She has made a fantastic start to her walking challenge by completing almost 200 miles by the end of February.

Pip has set up a JustGiving page for anybody who wants to sponsor her.